4th February 2017 - 5 mins read
Message: I’m in a relationship with a married man who has 4 children. I was born and raised in Europe with a Middle Eastern background. Growing up in an uptight and small town in Europe, my life was very dull and boring. I dropped out of university once someone offered me an Event management job in the Gulf. I thought I would do take a break from my education for a year and return to finish financially more stable. This was 12 years ago. Suddenly life was very exciting and I met a lot of new people from all around the world. Unfortunately, I found myself living a lifestyle I was not accustomed to. I started drinking and engaging with men. 5 years ago I met a local who at first didn’t tell me that he was married. I found out 2 years into the relationship. He swore that his marriage was coming to an end soon as he never loved his wife and hardly knew her before marrying her. They already had 1 child and she was pregnant with the second. 3 years and 2 more children later he still swears he never loved her and that he will leave her soon and marry me instead but it is difficult because of his very well-known family. I know I sound like a fool but I really love him, and I believe him because he really seems upset about the situation. Technically I’m jobless right now and he is my main financial source of income. Officially I have a senior position in one of his companies, but I have never seen the office from the inside. That’s a big secret I have to carry around. I fill my days with a lot of physical activity and some volunteering. Obviously, he is very wealthy and he makes up for his shortcomings during all the important holidays he has to spend with the kids with very expensive gifts and short vacations on regular days. He even takes the time to meet my friends and family. I can’t say that I am unhappy with my life, I really have everything I need, but I can’t shake off the feeling that something is wrong and I often have to cry out of nowhere. I can’t recall the last time I have slept through the night. I never talk to my friends about this because from the outside I seem to have everything. A good job, a generous boyfriend, a great house in a beautiful city. Am I ungrateful?
Dear Female, 27
Thanks for sharing your story and taking your time to write all of that down. The truth is, in doing so you confessed to yourself that something is - in fact - wrong.
While growing up we all have dreams and visions about how our lives should look like when we grow older. Many of us cannot wait to grow up to be independent or out of the parent’s house, to travel, or just to begin a new chapter. The reality is, however, no matter how well planned our steps may be with choosing a certain education or engaging in certain type of activity, life writes its own stories for us. And soon we learn that we have to adapt to the things life throws at us. That does not mean that we cannot plan things to a certain extent but one of the essences of life is to know, that there is only little we can truly control. Among these things is how we protect and fuel our emotional well-being. In order to not feel powerless, we have, no matter the circumstances, no matter how hard life feels at the moment, pause and reflect. Unless you are in a life-threatening situation. That requires getting out of it first.
But when life is not at stake, reflection is one of the most important tools to use to make life better. When was the last time you paused and looked at your life? You say the bigger picture looks happy and well-settled as you have everything you need? But are you really?
You live your life from one distraction to another to not tackle the real construction sites of your life. So let’s look at it together for a moment.
You, yourself, wrote as subject “I think I am a mistress”.
Please, let that sink in for a minute. You have not brought up anywhere in the actual message and yet it is there. Piercing my eye whenever I look at the subject which will also be the header of the post.
Admitting that to yourself must be very hard, and it is painful, very painful to wake up in the morning admitting that something feels wrong. But ignoring the source of the pain will not make the pain go away. If anything, it will grow gradually and make you more miserable.
As in all of my posts, I cannot give you a guideline on how to solve difficulties concretely. But I will hint a few things.
When was the last time you remember being really happy? Was it before or after you found out that he was a married man with children? Now, I will not question why you did not find out sooner than you did because I know that men can be very creative in living a double life.
Having said that, I can imagine that he is living an unfulfilled marriage. I know better than to just judge him for his decisions. The cultural obligations of the Middle Eastern society take a toll on everyone living in it. It takes a very strong-willed and confident person to stand up for themselves. And that is not easy in many cases. I have empathy for every family/cultural constellation that catapults you into a prison you do not know a way out on your own. However, what I will say, he lied to you and betrayed you and his wife. His cowardly stance hurt many, not just himself. And let this sink in as well.
That leads me to the second question. Is he really the person you thought he would be when you first fell in love with him? Yes, I agree certain traits and features do not show immediately. And also, people change throughout the course of life but have you ever imagined yourself being with a person who betrayed three people for 2 years? He betrayed you, her and himself - excluding his children.
Let’s assume you could forgive all that, which you should for your own good, and let’s assume you make the conscious choice to be with him, now despite everything you have been through and all the pain you ultimately decided to suppress. Is he the man you see yourself growing old with?
Bare in mind, there is no “if he decides to get a divorce, then yes”. Because the family he built will be forever part of his life. He has children I assume you have never met. There is a whole different side to him you do not know. Are you really up for that role?
And if he does not get a divorce, is he the one you want to raise your own children with, provided you want to have children.
I understand it is hard to get out of the comfort of the life you are living at the moment, but these are some of the questions that you need to start asking yourself in order to find some peace of mind. You are still young and vital, you can still turn your life around and make choices towards are better a life.
Bottom line, my advice would be. Please pause and reflect. What is it that you really want from life and what can you do in the limited cycle of things you can do to achieve some state of happiness and contentment. Are you living your true authentic self?